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Hungarian Wine Regions: Eger And The Legend Of Bull’s Blood

Tamás Székely 2015.09.16.

The famous wine region of Eger, located in Northeast Hungary, is home to the legendary ‘Bull’s Blood of Eger’ (Egri Bikavér), perhaps the best-known Hungarian red wine abroad. Based on Kékfrankos, Bull’s Blood is a cuvee, a blend of three or more grapes, matured in oak barrels for at least 12 months. Kékfrankos, the key ingredient of Bull’s Blood and Pinot Noir are the most planted reds in the region but Syrah is also very popular in Eger. As for the whites,  Hárslevelű, Olaszrizling and Leányka (‘Little Princess’) are the most common white grapes in the Eger region.

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The some 5400 hectares of vineyards of the Eger wine region is located on the southern slopes of the Bükk Mountains . The wine region is divided into two districts of protected origins: the Eger and the Debrő districts, thus embracing the town of Eger and the following 19 villages: Andornaktálya, Demjén, Egerbakta, Egerszalók, Egerszólát, Felsőtárkány, Kerecsend, Maklár, Nagytálya, Noszvaj, Novaj, Ostoros and Szomolya in the Eger, and Aldebrő, Feldebrő, Tófalu, Verpelét, Kompolt and Tarnaszentmária in the Debrő district.

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The area to visit in the Eger is called ‘Szépasszony-völgy’ (The Valley of the Beautiful Women), a valley just south of the town, which has numerous wine cellars. Wine tasting is offered in several locations and shuttle service is available from Dobó tér, the town’s main square. Eger is also home to some fresh whites, as white grapes also have long-lasting traditions in the region. For a long time red and white grapes were grown in equal quantities, however this equilibrium was changed in favor of the red grapes by the success of Bull’s Blood (Bikavér).

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According to legend, the name “Bull’s blood” originates from the invasion of the Turks in the middle of the 16th century. To motivate and support the small group of Hungarian soldiers during the Siege of Eger Castle, they were served red wine. Among the Turkish troops it was rumored that bull’s blood was mixed into the wine, as otherwise the strength and firm resistance of the castle could not be explained. However it was,  the  2000-strong defenders are remembered as national heroes ever since as they withstood the attack of the 40-times stronger Turkish army for over a month in 1552.

source: egerborvidek.hu, visitbudapest.travel and wikipedia